A chance to make history

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March 21, 2016 11:49 AM

Kobe Walker scored late in the third period for the Lloydminster Bobcats in Game 2 of their best-of-five series with the Foothills Bisons in the Alberta Midget Hockey League final on Saturday. Lloydminster is up 2-0 in the series and can win their first league championship at the midget AAA level with a victory.

Midget Bobcats one game away from AMHL championship

Brayden Goulet broke with hockey tradition.

After the Lloydminster Bandit Pipeline Bobcats won the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s (AMHL) North Division series over Sherwood Park, the captain skated to centre ice after his team had lined up on the blue line and was presented with the North Division Cup.

He grabbed it with two hands to the dismay of his teammates, a few of which couldn’t believe Goulet was holding the cup.

It wasn’t that they weren’t happy to win it for the second time in the past three seasons, but hockey tradition says the only cup you touch is the the final one because that is what you play all season for.

Lucky for Goulet, despite perhaps angering a few hockey gods, the Bobcats are just one win away from capturing the AMHL cup for the first time in franchise history after going up 2-0 in their best-of-five series with the Foothills CFR Bisons this past weekend.

And if the Bisons somehow sweep the remaining three games of the series, Lloydminster knows exactly who to blame.

“I was getting a lot of pressure before this series when we won the last one about not touching the last cup,” said Goulet, who will get the honour of hoisting the first midget championship in Lloydminster’s history.

“It will just be something that will come up and will happen.”

Lloydminster, however, didn’t seem to suffer any negative setbacks from their captain’s ill-timed mistake, as they opened the final series with an offensive outpour, winning 10-0 in Game 1 on Friday night. Goulet had two goals in the game, as did Zane Franklin and Macgregor Sinclair, as the Bobcats scored five in the first period en route to the one-sided victory.

Game 2, although a more physical confrontation between the Bobcats and Bisons, ended much the same way, as Lloydminster kept Foothills off the scoreboard for a second game in a 5-0 victory.

Goaltender Austin McGrath earned his fourth and fifth shutouts of the post-season, and enters Game 3 with a .978 save percentage in eight playoff starts. He has only allowed four goals in the playoffs and as of the start of Game 3, will have played 156 minutes of shutout hockey.

“It’s amazing,” said head coach Travis Clayton. “He’s a focused goalie right now and you can just see it that he wants a championship. He is very close and he has a huge smile in the locker room right now. He’s kept us in some games and won us some games and I’m just really happy for him.”

Outside of McGrath, the depth of the Lloydminster roster is showing time and time again that they can play any style of hockey and still come away with a victory. The best team in the AMHL during the regular season is proving on the ice that they are still the team to beat during the post-season.

Game 3 will go Thursday, the first chance for the Bobcats to close out the series and win their first league championship at the midget AAA level. The team has a lot of tradition built in, and to see that banner raised for the first time is something that no one on the team is taking lightly.

“There is a lot of good hockey players that have come through here,” said Clayton. “It’s good for the organization for guys coming up and wanting to play midget AAA hockey to see a banner maybe hanging.

“We’re pretty focused. It is going to be tougher down there. Their backs are against the wall, so they have nothing to save it for, so we are going to have to match their intensity right off the bat and hopefully don’t give them any life.”

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